A Call From A Prophet

In a letter dated 27/10/2009 we received a long awaited call to serve as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to work in the Mexico City Temple Visitors Center, in the Mexico City East Mission. We were to report to the Missionary Training Center on February 15, 2010 and later serve for almost two years in Mexico City

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baby Blanket Project

Several years ago senior missionaries from the Visitors Center began an humanitarian baby blanket project. A member from the US makes knitted baby caps, down here we buy fleece and cut it up for baby blankets. Since June Leslie has taken over spearheading the project. She and I go downtown and buy fleece about once a month.

She invites others to help cut the fleece and make
it into baby bundles with a blanket, cap, a poem, and an invitation to visit the Visitors Center. When we get together to do the project we have a great time and get a lot done in a hurry. Leslie also enjoys cutting fleece and making bundles by herself when it is not convenient to have a group activity.

Sometimes the men even get involved. Here we are making the bundles

These are bundles we made up to give away Christmas eve morning: white blankets, red a green hats.

Mexico City has an infants and maternity hospital for women of very modest means. At times these mothers have no clothes for their babies when they go home after a one day stay. The blankets and hats at least gives them something to take the babies home in. Normally we go to the hospital once or twice a month and give away between 40-60 per visit.

The hospital is about 15 minutes away (by taxi) from the Visitors Center. When we go we take two sister missionaries who actually give away the bundles. We stand out in the hall with the bags of bundles. The women are in rooms which hold 6 mothers each.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Christmas 2010 in Mexico City

Christmas is an exciting and happy time at Temple Square in Mexico City. The square is decorated with over 300,000 lights, red and white Poinsettias planted all over, and a life sized nativity scene. It makes for a very festive atmosphere. Leslie and I enjoyed warm evening walks to see the lights and people walking around.

During the season we have numerous choirs in the center to sing Christmas music. The decorations and music draws large crowds to the Visitors Center. The photo below gives you a little idea of the number of visitors. In a typical month we have 6-8,000 visitors. This December we had over 16,000 visitors. It was difficult yet exciting to serve such numbers. One Saturday we had over 3,600 people come with over 80 tourist buses. The parking lot was full and the buses had to park along the street (see photo below).

The Mexican people love a good party and we had several of them. To the right, is a Christmas party for a local congregation we attended during the fall. The main course was a local dish with shrimp, shellfish, chicken, pork, and beef over a flavored rice. It was wonderful. We all had a great time eating and talking.

On Christmas day Leslie and I treated the Sister Missionaries to a pinata filled with candy. We had a great time watching these young women take their whacks at the pinata. After that, we all had a turkey Christmas dinner and played several large group games.

We had a wonderful Christmas season. Our work, friends, and festivities keep us from getting too homesick, but it is hard not to miss all our family and friends at home. We hope each of you had a Merry Christmas and that you will have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mexico City, Old and New

Pictured above is a view of the city from atop the Castillo in Chapultepec Park.

The city is a mixture of buildings
from the colonial era and the
modern. To the right is the Palace
of Fine Arts, an ornate building
inside and out. It includes a
theater, art galleries, and a

This is a view to the south of the Palace of Fine Arts that shows commercial buildings built in the colonial era.

This is a city of monuments, and fountains

A monument to Christopher Columbus and the early priests who came to "civilize" the inhabitants of Mexico

A monument to celebrate Mexico's independence from Spain.

There are many small parks, ponds, statues of important national figures dispersed around the city, especially in the commercial, governmental,
and educational centers of the downtown area.

These photos show some of the more modern parts of town. Attractive buildings, tree lined streets, parks, monuments, water features adorn these areas. Many of these areas have a European flavor.

Shopping in the city is a mix of large modern malls like you would find in large cities in the US, small specialty shops, restaurants, and large open markets selling food, household goods, clothes,and artisan shops selling native arts and crafts.

One observation is that there are few skyscrapers. I think there are two reasons for this. First, the city is in a serious earthquake zone. In 1985 a large earthquake destroyed large parts of the city and killed close to 100,000 people. Second, much of the city, down the hill from the more modern area we are now looking at, was built on a old lake bed and buildings there are constantly sinking. The area around the temple is on this lake bed. A great deal of technology and engineering is used to keep it level and to limit sinking.

The photo below shows some colorful apartment buildings and the horrendous traffic in Mexico City. The city has over 20 million inhabitants, 5 million cars, and an inadequate highway system.
Interestingly, there are over 120,000 taxis and a good metro system. The metro carries 5,000,000 passengers daily. We use the metro when we can because it is faster than going by taxi when traveling downtown. Normally the cars are filled to capacity. It is safe if you travel in daylight hours, but you must guard your valuables from pickpockets. When necessary we take taxis, they are cheap (a 10 minute ride will cost you 2 dollars), easy to find, and generally safe. I say generally, because there are few accidents, especially considering the lack of the use of traffic laws and the daring way they drive - it has to be experienced to be understood and believed - and since they license the taxis we use, assaults and robbery are rare. We've had no difficulty.

The Castillo at Chapultepec Park

The park is the largest in the city and contains world class museums, a zoo, large areas of grass, trees, bushes and flowers, and on top of a hill the Castillo. Above Leslie and Sergio, our taxi driver and guide walk up the hill to the Castillo. To the left, we are at the entrance.

The building began as a military academy for young men to prepare to be military officers. Later it was converted to the residence for the country's rulers and presidents. About 50 years ago it was converted to a museum with the first floor containing historical artifacts, and artistic representations of the country's development. The second floor shows how it looked when rulers and presidents lived there. The edifice is beautiful and elegant.

This was the dinning room for entertaining visiting dignitaries. It is elegant and opulent. Other parts of the living area give a good idea of how the wealthy lived a century ago. Pictured below is the rooftop garden area. It is spectacular in two regards: the gardens, statuary, buildings and patios are beautiful; and because of its location the view of the city is spectacular. The photo showing the overview of the city, at the beginning of this post, is taken from this rooftop area.